By order of the royal rabbit: sex store boss off to Palace

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The Independent Online

* Wonderful news, truly an occasion for readers to unwrap their Union Jack bunting and dance in the street. (Calm down - Ed.)

I hear, at last, of a rapprochement between the Ann Summers boss, Ms Jacqueline Gold and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Their feud began in 2002, shortly after the monarch's Golden Jubilee, which the sex toy and lingerie chain commemorated by using Liz's image on posters promoting a Wild Guide to Sex. (Above HM's head was a thought bubble reading, "Phwoar, one must get one.")

The Palace complained.

Two years later, the purveyor of frilly knickers, Rampant Rabbits and other assorted stimulators (that's Gold) was outraged to be blacklisted from Bucky-P's Women of Excellence lunch.

Gold retaliated by calling the Queen "short-sighted", adding: "Perhaps she should ask her granddaughter, Zara Phillips, who is a customer and recently held an Ann Summers party at her mother's house." What next! The Duke of Edinburgh sneaking about in PVC evening attire?

Palace footsoldiers have now mellowed, and Gold, one of our most powerful businesswomen, will finally get her moment at the cucumber sandwich buffet.

She has received an invitation from the Queen for the "Reception for Women in Business", and must present herself at the Palace on Valentine's Day. Comments an Ann Summers spokesman: "We are going to apply for our royal crest."

Pandora wonders: will Ms Gold be sending HM any Ann Summers samples?

"We wouldn't dare."

Prudes.

* Hugh Grant has not wowed movie critics of recent. His last flick, the satire American Dreamz in which he played a reality TV host, received mixed reviews, and to say it whistled its way down the Box Office rankings would be to suggest that it rose very far in the first place.

Hollywood analysts blamed the poor showing, in part, on Grant's prickliness towards the Fourth Estate. He "did little promo work", granting only a handful of interviews, and was rarely on television.

In three weeks he will make a long-anticipated return afore the glaring flashbulbs and babbling hacks of the showbiz press corps, at the premiere of his new filmMusic and Lyrics. (Grant is an over-the-hill singer given days to write a hit for a bright young thing played by Drew Barrymore. They may, or may not, end up boffing.)

I hope the actor's ribs aren't too bruised from the studio boss's nudge.

* Before he became tennis-player-with-the-stars, "brother" to Tony Blair and the (self-styled?) "Lord Cashpoint", Michael Levy was a pop record impresario - the founder, in 1973, of the Magnet label.

One music executive recalls Levy's legendary schmoozing (which has raised many millions for Jewish charities and, more recently and problematically, for the Labour Party). I'm told that Levy was particularly persuasive in getting his acts heard, among them Chris Rea and the Seventies glitter rocker Alvin Stardust.

"I used to love Michael. When he needed an act on a show, there were generous and imaginative perks.

"I hear he's in a bit of bother at the moment. He's a nice guy, I hope it works out for him."

* Tight-faced Labour Party chair Hazel Blears - known to Westminster's crueller commentators as "The Botox Princess" - seems not to have much time away from running her bull-in-a-china-shop campaign to replace Prezza as Deputy Prime Minister to write her own press releases.

Yes, that's right, the curse of the cut-and-paste newsletter for Labour MPs strikes again. The Labour political officer Will Neal e-mailed the basic text to parliamentarians, reminding them: "You will need to adapt the MP name in the header, the date... and the regional statistics for the minimum wage story."

Lo and behold, Ms Blaarrgh's website carries a story, "Hazel Blears MP Cracks Down on Rogue Employers". She claims to have personally launched a campaign to rectify this injustice, but copies Neal's mailout verbatim.

Blaarrgh has been criticised before for sounding like an android, but still...

* And the award for the most cack-handed film tie-in for January goes to... (drum roll) Asda! Congratulations! The supermarket sent finance journalists an aggressive press release on the back of Sly Stallone's new Rocky film, hoping to put the frighteners on its competitors. "Asda is expecting a big increase in the number of older people applying for jobs following the release of the latest Rocky Balboa film," chunters a spokesman.

"Employment experts predict that the new movie, which shows Rocky coming out of retirement once again, will encourage hundreds of retired people to get back into the employment market. Just because you're old, it doesn't mean you're on the ropes."

Good for them, although the last time Pandora checked, Grandad wasn't shadow-boxing in the bathroom mirror or compiling a "training montage" in the back garden.

Asda has kindly offered Sly a checkout job, should the film flop.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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